Re:JBAA papers

Forums General Discussion JBAA papers Re:JBAA papers


Posted by Steve Holmes2 at 00:40 on 2012 Jul 27

My thanks to Gary and Jeremy for their comments. It’s good to know that accepted norms are being applied in some instances! However, while I am gratified that they have had good experiences with the papers submission process, one might perhaps say that the application of these norms seems somewhat patchy. As previously remarked, my experience was the diametric opposite from theirs: failure to return the full reports to me; no indication that the referees made constructive comments; a slow turn-round for emails, and a totally unhelpful attitude from the Papers Secretary. All of which confirms my view that I have been badly treated and that the questions I posed to the Papers Secretary were entirely justified and worthy of a reply in a professional manner.I would agree with Jeremy that different referees may give different levels of comment if left to their own devices, but there are very clear guidelines for referees out there on the Internet and so there really is no excuse for this sort of inconsistency. Inconsistency in the treatment of authors is equally inexcusable.Moving on to the concept of a "JBAA paper", I am also very appreciative of the mix of articles published and would agree that the Journal is a top-quality publication. This was not my point, however. I was observing that a large percentage of the articles published as JBAA papers should not have been so classified as they do not fall within the definition of a scientific or learned paper. Publish them elsewhere in the Journal by all means but defining what are, in some cases, merely general interest articles as JBAA papers will only serve to debase the whole concept of the Journal Paper as an entity of scientific merit. One should never confuse the roles of referee and proof-reader!On Gary’s specific mention of section reports, while they should clearly form part of the Journal (as they record the extensive work done by many BAA members over a period of time), I would submit that they also are not "scientific papers" in the true sense of the word. The main problem with them is that they are almost impossible to referee: the source data will rarely be available and there is no logical flow of thought process from theory to observation to conclusion. They are simply what they say they are – summary reports of a season’s observations, no more and no less. Their credibility is not improved by an attempt to dress them up as anything else. There is also a great deal of inconsistency in this area, incidentally – for example, can anyone show me the difference between Richard McKim’s paper on Mars in 2005 in Vol.121 No.4 and his essentially identical-in-concept reports on Venus in Vol.121 No.6, Vol.122 No.1 and Vol.122 No.2 ?While researching the background to my comments I performed a review of all items published as JBAA papers over the last few years and worked this up into a document (I almost said "paper"!) in which I analyse their status as "papers" or "non-papers". If anyone is interested I can finish this off and submit it to the Forum so members can have a fuller appreciation of my concerns in this area.Steve Holmes